By Gbenga Oke
Dr Abdullahi Adamu was the former governor of Nasarawa State and until recently Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP). In this interview with Vanguard, he talks about his mission to the Senate, the level of his acceptance by his people just as he debunks claims that he is at loggerheads with the incumbent Governor, Aliu Akwe Doma.

He also denies speculation that his senatorial ambition is based on contesting for the number one seat in the Senate just as he argues that PDP will maintain victory in virtually all the states of the federation  despite skirmishes arising from the party’s  various congresses primaries. Excerpts:

Adamu

The Voters’ registration exercise has come and gone but the memory still lingers on the minds of many Nigerians. What is your assessent of the exercise?

Honestly, given the Nigerian situation, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has tried its best. Yes, there were some problems and we have to realize that anything new will encounter some hiccups. When they started, there were initial problems and for almost a whole week, the exercise did not produce what we expected but after the first week, INEC was able to tackle the challenge and was able to overcome the major obstacles experienced at the beginning.

You recently won the Nasarawa -West senatorial PDP ticket. What motivated your decision to run for the  Senateafter being the Governor of Nasarawa for eight years?

Fundamentally, I am motivated by service. I want to get to the Senate by the grace of God to add whatever value my service will provide in making the National Assembly attain its constitutional role for the Nation.  When you are talking of legislation, you cannot pre-empt what you will be doing there, so essentially like I said that I am motivated by service. By God’s grace, if I get to the Senate, I will be a team player because there are Senators there before me and once one has the capacity to debate and decide on a  superior argument, one can convince them to come along with you.And if they have superior argument one can go along with them.

Some have argued that your popularity is based on being a former governor of the state. How do you react to that and what does the popularity portend for your Senatorial ambition?

I appreciate and must confess that I am being humbled by the gesture from my people. It is the manifestation of acceptability and I thank God almighty for making it possible, it is also an expression of what you mean to them.

I was governor for  eight years and I am not trying to play down on anybody but you can count on your fingers how many governors that still enjoy that kind of reception. How many ministers do enjoy that kind of gesture and how many high profile public servants still enjoy such gesture? So I thank God almighty for such gestures and once another opportunity comes, I will equally serve my people better.

There has always been this impression that you and the incumbent governor, Alhaji Akwe Doma have never been in good terms since he took over from you. Can you shed light on what is really going on between both of you?

I don’t know what I would say that will clear the air. Somehow, with all respect to the Fourth Estate of the realm, we seem to have room for negative journalism. I have no quarrel with it provided it is positive, what I quarrel with is when you go out and you put so much premium on negative attributes of whatever you are treating, and it is really saddening. On the surface of it, I do not mind any media house speculating over any issue but you do not go printing or airing what you know not to be true.

I have personally said times without number that I have no problem with the governor, those who have problems with the governor, they want shoulder to carry on, they want somebody’s wall to climb to talk about the governor. Sometimes it could even be abusive, it is not in our traditional culture to do so, it is not in our religious inclination or teachings to abuse elders, we respect elders and we know their very unique position of leadership.

We have been told times without number that power comes from God and nobody should attribute that power to himself to say I or we made him. Whatever you do, God only used you as an instrument  for it , that is the way I see it but people want me to see it beyond that but I refused to do so. I am an instrument that God can use but I am not a kind of person that you will see nagging over any issue.

The issue of having problems with the Governor is not true, I enjoy a good working relationship with him and anytime this question comes up in any public discourse, I make my position clear. The governor is my friend and he is my leader today, I was governor of the same state for  eight years. I have played my part and I am no longer the governor, I should accord the incumbent the respect that I enjoyed while I was in that office and it is my duty and moral obligation to solicit for support and followership for him.

Although I am not saying he is 100 percent perfect, we are all human and nobody is perfect and I am not saying by every sense of my imagination that he has answered the yearnings of every citizen of the state. I am not saying that but that does not mean if we make mistakes, we cannot correct ourselves for the sake of making amends so that the collective goal, collective aspiration can be realized.

We do not achieve goals by being insolent, by being abusive, by being insulting or being in-subordinate, it is not right. I stand by my constitutional authority, where I have the opportunity to talk to the governor, I will talk to him and I do talk to him but God forbid to go to the public and insult my governor because I have other ulterior motive for doing so, if I have problems with the governor, I should not make it public issue, it is as simple as that. I don’t have any problem with the governor.

What about speculations that you might not be give him your support to his ambition at the forthcoming election…

(Cuts in) As far as election is concerned, working for Governor Aliu Akwe Doma is working for victory of the PDP; working for the presidential candidate of PDP in winning election is working for our great party. Working for me in my senatorial ambition is also working for the PDP and that is accorded to every other elective office in the PDP.

So, you can quote me that I am working for the victory of Governor Aliu Akwe Doma and I will continue working for him till we win Nasarawa State again at the forthcoming elections by God’s grace.

From 2007 till date, the PDP has always won majority of the states across the country until recently when some states were lost to opposition parties. As we move towards the April elections, many have argued that PDP might lose more states including Nasarawa State due to division among party members. What is your assessment of this development?

Between me and you, I don’t want to be self confident and I don’t want to be over confident and without becoming unpleasant with the electioneering drive that is on. But I can tell you and you can quote me that God willing, we are working to win and we will win in Nasarawa State. I am not saying it is going to be a do or die affair, not at all, we are going to win by working for victory, we are going to win playing the game according to the rules of this game, we will win by the grace of God.

We are on the side of goodness, we are on the side of right. For me, win, if I work hard, I satisfy myself. Lose, if I work hard, I still have the inner satisfaction that I have done my best to my satisfaction. I am not unaware of the fact that there are negative grumbling, whisperings and  under-currents here and there t. During electioneering period like we are in now, the political temperature obviously goes up and by the time the elections are over, they are over again except in few selected cases.  So, we are not having any unusual situation on our hands, it is a normal electioneering situation, people want to show that they matter.

As a national figure within the PDP, do you see this differences affecting the fortunes of the party at the polls?

Well, it is not the best situation to have, it is not the best situation to have conflicts within parties during electioneering period, it is not good. We don’t pray for it. The thing about the PDP, take it or leave it, it has the highest followership in the country. Everything we have in Nigeria is PDP, take it or you leave, I am saying this with all sense of honesty. This is a party that for good or bad, we have 27 states and for whatever reason, people go to other parties only when they feel offended in PDP, so all the other guys you find in opposition parties are dropouts of PDP, they are dropouts with few exceptions.

Many of them left the PDP for whatever reason they chose to and register a party and some of these parties do not even have a fixed address except the one that is registered in INEC and you can’t find them anywhere else. It is only when it is election time like this that you see them hawking for membership, they are looking for disgruntled members, they are looking for disgruntled members of the parent political body in Nigeria called the PDP.

So it is expected in PDP because we have strange bed fellows and this is one part of the Nigeria politics that I am not comfortable with. Some people are not in a particular party because they share their views, they do not share in the philosophy of the party. A number of people join parties just because of what they can get immediately and the PDP being a predominant party in Nigeria and the party in government, people find solace in PDP.

Sometimes, when they can’t get what they want or because of fallout of stakeholders in the party, they start looking for  alternative and in a situation where some parties are looking for people to pick their tickets, you expect this to happen but this will not deprive us of victory. We are not getting over-confident, we believe that these are very unique challenges of PDP and to our expectations, we will win our elections clean and clear by the grace of God.

The PDP has been on the field, everyday and everywhere, it is PDP because PDP is the predominant party. If you go to court today, any case PDP wins, it is miscarriage of justice and anywhere PDP loses, the judiciary is up and doing. They will say the judiciary has delivered justice and this is the Nigerian mentality. But does it mean that where the big brother does good, you deny him the benefit of being good?

What people tend to forget is that we have some of the best hands in the PDP, we have some of the best professional journalists, best medical Doctors and Engineers, you will find them in the PDP. In the same way we have people of questionable character and PDP cannot be exempted from them because it is such a large party with large followership, so we have got the good and the bad and I am not ashamed to say so because PDP is a national party with national followership  and we have since showed that by winning election three times at the National level.

It is not because we are too strong, it is because our message is accepted and of course, there are few who will say no to this. I respect their views but this politics is about Nigerians and about the Nigerian project and democracy.  If you have a menu that is not accepted by potential customers, then you are not in business.

The PDP has the right menu, we have right taste and we are in business telling Nigerians what we believe Nigeria should be and Nigerians are accepting that it is the party to be in and they join us, they join PDP. I accept that we have a very unique problem of managing our size, it is the problem of managing success, I am not denying this fact, but it is a continuing process, every year you have changes in the political environment and you have to tune to the direction of your service such that you can deliver the right goods.

We are doing the best we can, I cannot say that we have done everything Nigerians want, if I say so, I will be lying, but we are trying our best because the issue of Nigeria is legitimate, the yearning and the feeling of anxiety to move the country forward is legitimate. I accept and we are going to do more for Nigerians. Also, when they accuse our party of rigging, what people don’t understand in politics is that anywhere in the world, you cannot rig election where you are weak, there is nothing you can do.

Where you are contesting for election and you have 30 people out of 100, there is no way you can rig in such elections no matter your capacity for rigging. So when people talk of this rigging, I am not saying there have not been cases of rigging here and there, but there is too much talk about the rigging and sometimes we paint ourselves in an unacceptable way to the International community. Nigerians have ways of running down their own country, there is nothing wrong in being critical but criticism could be positive.

What do you make of comments  that your objective for going to Senate is to become the next Senate President?

I am not going to the National Assembly because of any elective office and I am going there as a team player . I am hoping to be there to add value and ensure that the National Assembly attains the primary objectives set out for  it in nation-building and governance of Nigeria. I detest people associating my name with going to the Senate to contest the Senate Presidency, it is rubbish.

Those that are saying so are doing so out of mischief. I beg of them: they should let me be. My objective is to go and represent my people and add value to the constitutional role I am supposed to play when I get to the Senate. What a lot of people do not understand is that Senator David Mark is my friend and I have known him from his military days and I cherish our relationship.

Also, he is the most senior political office holder from my zone and therefore my political leader. So it is not in my calculation to go to the National Assembly to fight for his seat. I believe the people carrying this rumour are illiterates and they do not know what they are doing. Senator David is my friend and by virtue of his position, he is my leader today.

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